Court asks Pearson's Indian arm to stop infringing on Bangalore startup's IP rights
The Bangalore City Court has restrained Pearson India, the Indian subsidiary of global education services major Pearson LLC, from infringing on the intellectual property of city-based education technology startup, New Rubric Solutions.
New Rubric Solutions, founded in 2011 by IIM Calcutta alumni, has accused Pearson of infringing on its patent pending, assessment and analytics platform "Kaleido" that is used by schools to diagnose student needs and to provide them personalised remediation in areas which need most attention.
It alleged that Pearson plagiarised analysis report generated using Kaleido and was marketing these to educational institutions as output from a Pearson product MyPedia.
According to its law suit, for which it has not asked for any monetary damages, New Rubric alleged that Pearson India has been using information copied verbatim from a pilot test of Kaleido in a YouTube presentation to educators and the media.
New Rubric said it entered into discussions with Pearson in January 2014 for introducing Kaleido as an assessment tool in Pearson managed schools. The startup conducted a pilot test of its product in a school managed by Pearson between August-September 2014 and prepared a PDF presentation and sent to Pearson.
It claimed that Pearson offered to license Kaleido for a period of two years and later also explored a larger marketing alliance whereby the product would be initially included as part of a new product that the UK-based firm is planning to launch and later as part of its ICT solutions. The negotiations were unsuccessful.
The startup added that a Pearson executive proposed them to apply for Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF) for funding for Kaleido, the court order document, a copy of which was reviewed by Techcircle.in, says.
PALF is supported by global team within Pearson.
The application process involved disclosing many confidential and proprietary details about their product and their plans for future. While the negotiations continued until March this year without any solid outcomes, New Rubric alleged that Pearson started using the technical and financial information that it disclosed for its commercial gain.
The startup has accused Pearson of misrepresenting the test results of Kaleido as the test results of its own MyPedia to potential users who are also their potential customers. MyPedia is an integrated learning tool launched by Pearson India.
"The "Confidential - Not for Circulation" marks on the original slides from the presentation had been removed and a Pearson logo had been added. In the proceedings before the court, New Rubric explained how Pearson India was enthused by the results of a pilot test of Kaleido at a Pearson run school and made several offers to license Kaleido. When New Rubric refused their offers, Pearson India began deliberately and blatantly copying its proprietary analyses and misrepresenting these to educators and the media," said Krithika Muthukrishnan, co-founder of New Rubric Solutions.
Responding to the development, a Pearson spokesperson replied to VCCircle: "Pearson follows the highest standards in maintaining and respecting intellectual property rights. At this point of time, the matter is sub-judice and we would not like to comment on it. We have complete faith in the judicial system."
However court proceedings show that Pearson denied the allegations and countered by saying that there is no copyright over the data collected at a school managed by its team. It claimed that the solutions incorporated in the YouTube presentation was developed by a separate vendor Report Bee which is not similar to what New Rubric offered.
In the interim order, the city court upheld the startup's plea and ordered Pearson to stop using or referring to any outputs from Kaleido or from infringing on the startup's intellectual property in any way.
But the court dismissed the plea to ask Pearson to remove the test results from the MyPedia presentation on YouTube.
The case can be appealed in the High Court.